This is part 4 of a collection of diary entries by Vikki‘s dad during his holiday in Los Angeles (from London), January 2005. Links to earlier entries at the end of this post.
Still waking up at 5.00am, must be something to do with my body clock, maybe I am still on London time, but its O.K as it enables me to do my journal etc. I have made up my mind to head off up to San Francisco. Around 8.00am I went for breakfast, they have a different waiter today and he messed up my order. I asked him for fried potatoes and he brought me Hash browns, Which I normally like but they are not nice here, when I pointed out his mistake he went to the servery and brought me the potatoes but they were cold. Rather than continue to complain I just left them. Also, every other morning the other waiter had allowed me a small glass of orange juice, but this guy charged me $2.50cents for so I never tipped him, his loss. On the upside there are finally other guests using the restaurant. I got talking to a really nice couple Steve and Myra Douglas. While I was chatting with Myra, Steve wrote me out some directions with a couple of tips on where and where not to go on the coast. They told me that Highway 1 was blocked due to an avalanche and how to get around it which was really useful information. They lived in East California and were on their way to Bangkok to see their daughter, great people.
Finished my packing tipped the lady who had looked after my room and checked out of the Plaza. Found the 405 all right and headed north for the 101. I am not sure how but I missed the goddamn 101, I thought I was in the right lane, but whenever I approach a junction I slow down a bit and as I did a bloody police car pulled in front of me, distracted me and that was it I am heading for Sacramento instead of San Francisco. I was tempted to say sod it and carry on but Steve had painted such a pretty picture of Northern California that I turned off the Highway, turned around and headed back south. On the upside I passed by the Bud Light Brewery, biggest brewery I have ever seen. It seemed easier getting on to the 101 from the other direction, leastwise I made it this time.
Had the most euphoric feeling driving along, I just thought to myself ìHere you go little Dennis Fuller from Battersea, South London, driving along the California Highwayî fucking great or what? I was just admiring the countryside feeling a little guilty that I was cracking along at 70MPH while the poor old settlers had been lucky to make 7 miles a day, listening to rock music on the radio, when I saw a traffic sign warning of a downward gradient of 1 in 6. Well, I had not really noticed driving up through the mountains, but seriously I tell you what coming down off of it I saw some of the most incredible countryside I have ever seen, it was beautiful. Someone should invent a camcorder bracket that you could fit on to the dashboard and operate from the steering wheel. If you can do it with cruise control and radio why not the camcorder as well.
It had been my intention to carry straight on to San Luis Obispo, but I got a bit fidgety and wanted a cup of coffee, so I pulled off of the highway at Santa Buen Vista and had a stroll along the beach. There was a small flowered area, with some candles in jars enclosed with Beach Cane. I asked another couple who were also looking at it. They told me it was a sort of memorial for the ten people killed by the mudslide that had hit La Conchita. There was a photograph of a very pretty little girl it was very sad. The couple told me that a similar thing had happened about ten years previously and the Government had put sensors in the ground and told the people that they should move elsewhere. I saw the place later and to be honest I donít think that I would want to move away if I lived there. Anyway apparently it rained in a different place and the sensors did not pick it up. As I say I drove past the place a bit later on and just glimpsed some damaged cars and what looked like one of those old hippy style buses that they painted psychedelically, and huge piles of mud, a real tragedy. They had a police car blocking the access lane into town that was obviously only allowing residents in which seemed to be a really considerate thing for the authorities to do.
My next stop was Solvang, which the couple on the beach had told me about. It is a Dutch influenced town in the middle of California its fantastic, you could spend a week here. Terrific little shops, bakeries, coffee bars, eateries and even windmills all made to look as though they have just been transported from the Dutch countryside. I mean I am absolutely certain that if you wanted to build a house here, then the local planning authority would make you build it to conform to the rest of the town. Excellent place and delightful people, plenty of rest rooms as well which is quite important to the visitor. I did quite a bit of cam cording here especially in some of the shops and everyone was pleased to, let me. I was really tempted to stay the night here but reluctantly continued north.
As I turned on to the Highway I noticed that petrol was low and time was getting on. I did not really want to drive at night, as I would miss the scenery. 14 miles before Obispo I decided to pull into Nipoma it looked really nice but when I went to the Motel they wanted me to pay 90 dollars for the night, I thought this was a bit steep for my budget so I carried on to Obispo. I regretted my decision as it soon got dark and I had the hell of a job finding a decent motel. In the end I filled up with petrol, after having to ask a mechanic to show me how to get the filler cap off (blush, blush) I then had to get directions for the motel. But it paid off because he directed me to a No 6 ($42 for the night). It was next door to a Marjes Diner so I strolled over and had Chicken and French Fries with steamed vegetables, toughest chicken I ever ate in my whole life, still they kept re-filling my coffee cup for which I will forgive anybody anything. No where to go as I did not feel like anymore driving so got one of the girls to permanently loan me a glass and went back to my room and watched television with several scotch on the rocks. It is wonderful that every Motel has its own ice-making machine and you can just go help yourself. While I was in Marjes Diner one of the other customers had told me about a Motel up the road called Madonnaís, which does a terrific breakfast, so am going to try it tomorrow. Also it is Vikkiís Birthday so I must find an Internet CafÈ.